Tag Archives: Montana

Through the Portal

A Pandemic Roadtrip: Part 3 

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Heading north

The only restaurant food I had on the entire trip was in Missoula.  I stopped at a small, local shop on Hwy 93.  I walked up to the restaurant, and was greeted on the sidewalk by an employee.  Several menus were on display boards along the sidewalk; it could have been a drive-in.  There was only one other customer, a fellow traveler on a motorcycle.  I placed an order, and waited out on the walk.

Any drive through western Montana is a passage through some beautiful country.  The temps had dropped dramatically from the day before, the skies were overcast, and a light mist hung in the air.  Highway 93 winds north out of Missoula, skirting the western shoreline of Flathead Lake.  Eventually, it passes through Kalispell and Whitefish.  The only bad traffic was in Whitefish.  Oddly enough, I think it was the worst of the entire trip.

The Portal was different.  Most of the normal questions were not asked, although I was asked if I was transporting a firearm.  Covid-19 questions were on the front burner, opioid questions came in second.  In all my travels through Canada, this was the first time my car was searched.  And boy, was it searched.  An agent even opened a mouthwash bottle, and did not screw the lid on properly.  My duffle will have a minty fresh scent for the rest of the trip.

I was a bit surprised about the overzealous border agent, but I chalked it all up to boredom.  I was there for approximately 40 minutes, and no one else came through.  I was given my orders:  Take the shortest route to the Alaska border, no stopping for food, no stopping for pictures, and only pay for gas at the pump.  During the search, they found that I had all the food needed to cross, along with plenty of water and camping gear.  I was asked if I had lodging plans, and I said I only had one night planned – camping near Golden, British Columbia.  They must have been satisfied, because they let me pass.

*A footnote: I am not complaining about the procedure, as much as I’m detailing the account for other travelers.  The world has changed, even between neighbors.  I am extremely grateful that the Canadian officials let me return home through their country.  They did not have to, and I am fully aware of that fact.  Still, it was a night and day different experience, from what I have been through in the past.

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The ZX resting in Kootenay NP

My first camp site in Canada was in BC’s Kootenay National Park.  A little more formal of a setting than I had been visiting up until this point.  Much of the facilities were closed.  One tidbit of info: Just because a website says they have working showers at the campground, does not mean that one is allowed to use the working showers.  All were shutdown due to the pandemic.

Notice, once again, I lost a front license plate to a souvenir hunter.  The Nissan has been without a front plate since a visit to Tampa, Florida in 2016.

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Back in bear country

 


Devil’s Tower to Missoula

A Pandemic Roadtrip: Part 2 

 

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The Tower, at a distance

Day two of the road trip had absolutely beautiful weather.  Slightly cooler than the day before, but still warm and a tad sticky.

I had camped out fairly close to Devil’s Tower, and actually had no real plans to stop.  In the end, the sight of that column of rock rising up from above the Belle Fourche River valley, was too tempting.

Devil’s Tower is a butte formed of igneous rock.  Known as the Bear’s Lodge locally, The Tower was the first national monument in the United States, established in 1906 by then President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Devil’s Tower

The Tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, and is 867 feet from base to summit.  It’s an impressive sight, and I was not the only visitor to the monument.

The visitor’s center was closed.  The parking lot at the trailhead was full, although the overflow parking was not.  There was not one car in the parking lot with a Wyoming license plate; everyone was out of state.  There were a lot of RV’s trying to force their way into some sort of parking situation, and park workers tried valiantly to get them to park in RV parking.  So that part of the experience was no different than Pre-Covid.

There is a trail that runs around the Tower itself, that I had already trekked in the past. It was crowded, and confusion ran rampant.  Once again, park workers were doing their best to get people to social distance, but few people were paying any attention.  I decided to pass on that trail, and found a side track that no one else was on, just to stretch my legs.

Eventually, I had to get back on the road.  It didn’t take long to pick up the interstate again, and I was off for Montana.  Camping in the Lolo National Forest was the goal for the night.

 


Lend-Lease Monument

 

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Camera: Rolleiflex 3.5MX; Film: Kodak 120, TMax100

The Lend-Lease Monument is located in Griffin Park, downtown Fairbanks, near Golden Heart Plaza, alongside the Chena River.

The Lend-Lease Act was originally passed in March 1941, with the Soviet Union being added to the program in October of the same year.  The Northwest Staging Route, from the mainland of the U.S. through Canada and into Alaska, was extended into the Soviet Union with the Alaska-Siberian Airway (ALSIB).

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Map of ALSIB; cell phone photo

Planes were ferried from locations like Buffalo, NY; Minneapolis, MN; St Louis, MO; and Oklahoma City, OK to Great Falls, MT.  Airfields were carved out of the wilderness from Montana through Canada and on to Ladd Field in Fairbanks.  Most airfields were built 100 miles apart, with the longest being between Fort Nelson, BC and Liard River, which was 140 miles.  The Alaska Highway would soon be completed linking the airfields together by road.

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Camera: Rolleiflex 3.5MX; Film: Kodak 120, TMax100

The first Soviet pilots landed in Nome on 14 August 1942.  The Soviets took over the aircraft at either Ladd Field in Fairbanks or at Nome, then flew across the Bering Strait to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

Over 8000 aircraft flew through Ladd Field in Fairbanks on their way to the Soviet Union.  Between October 1941 and the end of May 1945 the U.S. provided the USSR with nearly a half-million vehicles other than aircraft, 2 million tons of gasoline and oil, and close to 4.5 million tons of food.  Of the 8000 aircraft, 133 were lost.  The average time to ferry an aircraft to the Soviet Union was 33 days.

Some of the aircraft ferried:

The Bell P-39 Airacobra, followed by the P-63 Kingcobra its successor, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and Rebublic P-47 Thunderbolt.  Bombers ferried included the Douglas A-20 Havoc and North American’s B-25 Mitchell.  Most of the transports ferried were the Douglas C-47 Skytrain.

“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation… it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”  

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

 

 


Lurking for salmon

Photo by Robert Hawthorne

Since we’re in the middle of Katmai Week here between The Circles, I wanted to share this photo, although probably not for the reasons many would think.

The pic above was taken of two fishermen in Katmai National Park. I’ve found myself in a similar situation while fishing Alaska’s rivers. Once was with my Dad, which was more nerve-wracking than when I was solo! Forget the bear, I was worried about how my Dad would react.

What I love about this picture, from all my time in Alaska, is that the bear actually has little to no interest in the fishermen. The bear simply has salmon on its mind. We don’t have two fishermen in the picture, but three.

If given half the chance, man can live with wildlife. The two species above, can coexist. Katmai NP&P is a prime example of that. I would hope that is the lesson the photograph has to give. After all, Alaska would be a much poorer place without her bears.

The photo was taken in July by Robert Hawthorne, a photographer out of Bozeman, Montana. His link is below:

https://roberthawthornephotography.com/


Sunset by Rail

A sunset in Montana, while riding Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

Camera: Leica M3; Film: Kodak 35mm, Ektar 100


Custer National Cemetery

Bighorn County, Montana


Custer National Cemetery

These are from a past Rover Roadtrip.

Big Sky Country.

The head stones, just like the plains of Montana, seem to go on forever.

I remember it was a hot, dry, spring day, on this visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield.


Indian Memorial Sculpture at Little Bighorn

Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120 T-Max 100


6 Years Ago

The Rover in Montana
The Rover after pushing through a blizzard near Flathead Lake, Montana

It was six years ago, when The Rover & I traveled through the portal and back into Montana, en route to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. I could use a good, long-distance road trip now, as much as I did then.

The man (& Rover) need a plan.


Generations Past; Oil on Canvas

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”

—John Muir, “The Mountains of California”

Painting of Lolo Pass: “Generations Passed” – Oil on canvas by John Potter


Jefferson River

Jefferson River

August 4th, Sunday, 1805

“Proceeded on verry early and Brackfast at the Camp Capt Lewis left yesterday morning; at this Camp he left a note informing that he discovered no fresh Sign of Indian &c.  The river continued to be crouded with Islands, Sholey rapid & clear; I could not walk on shore to day as my ankle was Sore from a tumer on that part.  The method we are compelled to take to get on is fatigueing & laborious in the extreen, haul the Canoes over the rapids, which Suckceed each other every two or three hundred yards and between the water rapid oblige [us] to towe & walke on stones the whole day except when we have poleing; men wet all day, Sore feet, &c, &c.”

———————William Clark

 

Monday August 5th 1805

The river today [Capt Clark] found streighter and more rapid even than yesterday, and the labour and difficulty of the navigation was proportionably increased; they therefore proceeded but slowly and with great pain as the men had become very languid from working in the water and many of their feet swolen and so painfull that they could scarcely walk. At 4 p.m. they arrived at the confluence of the two rivers where I had left [another] note. This note had unfortunately been placed on a green pole which the beaver had cut and carried off together with the note; the possibility of such an occurrence never onc occurred to me when I placed it on the green pole.  This accedent deprived Capt Clark of any information with ripect to the country, and supposing that the rapid fork was most in the direction which it was proper we should pursue, or West, he took that stream and asscended it with much difficulty about a mile and encamped on an islandthat had been lately overflown and was yet damp; they were therefore compelled to make beds of brush to keep themselves out of the mud.  in ascending this stream for about a quarter of a mile, it scattered in such a manner that they were obliged to cut a passage through willow brush which leant over the little channels and united their tops.”

———————-Meriwether Lewis

From The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition

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“Above its junction with the Madison, the Jefferson wanders, staggers, and crankles, flushing half its waters askew, the other awry, and throughout its upper and lower miles manifests little urge to go anywhere other than sideways; when it’s not hunting a new route or sending one channel off in search of two others, it will flow properly just long enough to fool a boatman.  In short, it is the little Jefferson that puts the mischief into the big Missouri, and, like its descendant, it seems always to ask ‘Where am I?’ although it stays not for an answer.”

———————William Least Heat-Moon, “River-Horse”  c1999


Montana Campsite

Deadman's Basin

Here’s a shot from Deadman’s Basin as the sun set.  The camera did a good job of actually catching the deep blue of Montana’s sky that night.